NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Horses became famous for winning.
Seabiscuit had 33, Secretariat had 16 and American Pharoah had just nine career wins.
That makes 100 wins exceptional. It’s a feat one local horse is on the verge of achieving.
Foiled Again has come away the victor 99 times.
“That’s just lights out. I mean, it’s unheard of,” driver George Brennan told CBS2’s Steve Overmyer in this week’s Snapshot New York.
Foiled Again is treated like a king, because he is one. He won Pacer of the Year three straight years and at an advanced age. Most horses compete for three to five years; he’s still winning at age 14.
“He’s a little older, a little fatter, a little rip in his ear, you know?” groomer Sarah Murphy said.
Murphy has watched him mature from a colt to a Hall-of-Famer.
Walking through the paddock at Yonkers Raceway, you need your head on a swivel. Non-stop action makes some horses jittery. Not Foiled Again.
“Size-wise, he’s not the most glamorous, he’s not the fastest, by any means whatsoever. He’s just tough, like he can get beat and he brushes it off, he comes back out and gives it his all again,” Murphy said.
In a sport driven by gambling, Foiled Again has won $7.5 million.
Steve Overmyer: “He’s the richest standard bred horse in history. Do you think of that when you’re in there talking with him?”
Sarah Murphy: “You can’t think of that when you’re in there talking to him. He’d be completely wrapped in a bubble wrap and you would just panic so badly over everything. And you’ve just got to let him be a horse.”
Overmyer: “Is he an active horse or a lazy horse?”
Murphy: “He is lazy. And then once he gets a little racy, he’ll get a little more aggressive around other horses.”
Every 10 days, he comes to the track in what’s become his most treasured time: race day. Little does he know, his trips up the ramp are numbered.
“Unfortunately for him, it is his last year of racing, because he’s 14 now. But I’m telling you, he’d still be racing if he was 15 or 16 – if the racing laws allowed him to be racing, he’d be racing,” Brennan said.
Wearing No. 3, he was tucked in second place on his fourth attempt at achieving the near-impossible: 100 wins.
A thoroughbred may be taller and leaner but a standard bred is blue collar. They have an attribute that’s pivotal and embodied in this horse – hearty.
Overmyer: “He does feel like a fighter, isn’t he?”
Murphy: “He’s got a lot of fight to him.”
“You can really tell because when you’re racing him, and you could be like on the lead rail, you think, ‘Oh wow, Foil don’t have it tonight. You know, he just doesn’t feel like he should.’ And then a horse comes up alongside of him, and that horse is never getting by him,” Brennan said.
Overmyer: “He’s like Rocky?
Murphy: “I think so, I think so.”
“He’s got a big heart, he loves what he does,” she added.
The 14-year-old horse would be 45 in human years. For an athlete to still be at the elite level at that age, it takes more than just grit.
“He’s got huge nostrils… He can take a lot of air. He probably has pretty big lungs. He has a decent sized chest on him,” Murphy said.
Those nostrils were literately breathing down the neck of the leaders as they made their way down the stretch, but he was boxed in and had nowhere to go.
Back in the paddock, he knew he lost – this time.
“He’s mad,” Murphy said.
Overmyer: “If he had his way, would he race until the end of his life?”
“He loves his job,” she added. “He’s not the kind of horse that’s going to be happy in a field. So when people say, ‘Oh, are you going to get 100 and be done?’ That’s not what’s going to make him happy.”
His ride home will be long, but not as long as his quest for racing immortality.
Foiled Again will take the week off to rest, but will soon be back on the track to make another attempt at his 100th win.